In Defense of Chicago Bulls Executives Gar Forman and John Paxson

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May 12, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau reacts in the second quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers in game five of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Since last week I have been trying to think of ways for fans to see the Chicago Bulls’ drama from the perspective of management. Everything from Tom Thibodeau’s view has been documented hundreds of times by the debacle-adoring American media. Almost everyone has taken Thibodeau’s side because there really hasn’t been a good case made for Gar Forman and John Paxson’s rationale. It’s hard to do. Unlike Thibodeau, they don’t talk to the media or have former working and personal friends calling nationally televised games for ESPN and ABC.

None of us have had any experience in the NBA. We all have had, however, breakups. And if there is one thing any adult man (or woman) likes to pretend he knows better than the NBA, it is how to end a relationship. Here is the Bulls’ situation from the perspective of you (if you’re a guy) breaking up with your girlfriend.

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You are a 37-year-old college graduate working in an office and have been dating your girlfriend for two years now. When you first met your girlfriend you liked her for her looks, but after a couple of weeks you actually enjoyed talking to her more than you did looking at her. (This is when anyone under 17 stops reading because they can’t fathom such a scenario.) Your friends are more surprised than congratulatory you landed a girlfriend far more attractive than you, and you don’t know if you should be angry or happy at them.

Two years pass. You haven’t yet proposed to your girlfriend because you no longer click with her like you once did. You still have moments, but the majority of time you spend around her you are irritated and tense. She argues with you about every little thing you tell her to do, and you don’t think she is worth the drama. Your friends see how attractive she is and explain that you should do anything possible to keep her. You try to tell your friends that maybe you are more attractive than they rate you, and they respond by poking you stomach to remind you how out of shape you are. She still loves you and acts like everything is the same. When you find yourself preferring to watch the Bulls over being with her, you know it’s time. Just kidding, you always did that. When you find yourself watching Bulls preseason games with her, then you know it’s really time.

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  • You dump your girlfriend. You sacrifice short-term insecurity and awkwardness for an attempt at long-term happiness. Your girlfriend is surprised, and all your friends question your decision. They tell you to stop trying to find perfection and just be happy you have someone you can stand who likes you, and your rather large gut, back. You try to tell them you won’t be happy living with her the rest of your life, but to no avail. They see you decently happy with her and think that is good enough. They can’t grasp your situation because they aren’t living it. You give up on trying to persuade people. You know you have made the right decision for your life, and you are also going to find new friends and start wearing sweaters.

    Thibodeau is that girlfriend out of your (Gar Forman and John Paxson’s) league. When they started their relationship Thibodeau was better than the Bulls expected. He carried them to unseen heights and all your friends (NBA fans and writers) thought it was a relationship that would last a while. As time passed, Thibodeau’s flaws (hard-headed, overconfident, and lacking the psychological aspect of a head coach) became apparent in the organization, but everyone else thought he was the same guy that ripped off 62 wins in his first year. This is your friends not understanding why you don’t like your girlfriend anymore. And it’s defensible because they aren’t there. For everyone that is not employed by the Chicago Bulls, we only see Thibodeau in games and interviews. We can’t fully comprehend the coaching situation just like your friends can’t fully comprehend why you don’t like your girlfriend anymore. People not in the situation are trying to make judgments.

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    Ultimately a decision had to be made that was best for the future. It was unpopular at the time and everyone else wanted the relationship to last. For you, your girlfriend still liked you and all your friends thought you were lucky to have her. For the Bulls, Thibodeau still wanted to be there and most NBA fans thought that he was one of the best coaches in the league. It also put the deciding parties in an uncomfortable position. You were single and out of shape at 39. Forman and Paxson basically turned the entire Bulls’ fan base against them and got rid of a great head coach without a lot of other options. The overriding theme in both the situations was, above all else, a decision was made that was best for the future. It didn’t matter everyone else’s predispositions. The Bulls put themselves in a better position to win a championship, and you gave yourself a real shot to find a girl you love.

    Next: Picking Sides...